On January 17, Gone With the Wind will celebrate its 75th anniversary, and Warner Brothers has released a knockout gorgeous, limited edition box set to honor that round number. I got my hands on a set, and I'm happy to report that it's a stunning edition that will make a hell of a gift for any fan of the film.
On a superficial level, it's packaged quite nicely in a pearlescent ivory box decorated with the faces of Rhett, Scarlett and Tara, and it includes a few little bells and whistles that made me squeal upon opening: a handkerchief embroidered with Rhett's initials and with a wrap-around tag that reads, "Never, at any crisis of your life, have I known you to have a handkerchief," and a lovely little music box that plays Max Steiner's "Tara's Theme." It also comes with a coffee table book titled Forever Scarlett: The Immortal Style of Gone With the Wind Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow by designer and one-time Project Runway contestant Austin Scarlett. It's a thorough and beautifully illustrated look back at the fashion of the film and the ways it's inspired styles for the following three-quarters of a century.
The film itself looks spectacular on Blu-ray, though this set offers the same audio and visual transfer from the 2009 Blu-ray release that I already own, and many fans of the film probably already own themselves. It's impossibly bright and vivid, offering just the right amount of clarity to still retain that movie magic. No additional remastering was done for this release, but the 2009 transfer was so flawless, I can't imagine what else could be done to improve upon it.
The special features are also largely carried over from the 2009 Blu-ray, including a brilliant, infinitely listenable commentary by film historian Rudy Behlmer. That edition offered 14 hours of supplemental features, and they are all included here, as well as two new additions:
Gone With the Wind - Hollywood Comes to Atlanta
Thirteen minutes of footage of the world premiere of Gone With the Wind held in Atlanta, Georgia. Much of the old footage is presented without audio and instead paired with Steiner's score, though there are snippets of speeches by Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh and more. The footage will fascinate anyone who holds this film dear, bringing with it the feeling of breathless excitement that such a grand premiere must have created.
"Old South/New South"
A nearly half-hour educational featurette focusing on the racial divide of the South and the ways in which this troubled region is constantly growing and changing. This, especially, feels like a crucial inclusion, one of the first featurettes on any Gone With the Wind edition I've ever owned to outright acknowledge the shameful pro-slavery stance of the film, and to attempt to reconcile a modern perspective with the hopelessly outdated viewpoint of Gone With the Wind.
Of the special features carried over from the 2009 Blu, the Vivien Leigh documentary is particularly riveting, although I wish the Clark Gable featurette were comparable. Gable: The King Remembered was a 1975 TV movie that feels rather cheerfully misogynistic and archaic. But if you don't already have the previously released Blu, there's much to pore over here, with vintage newsreels touting the production and release of the film and documenting the eternally compelling (to me, at least) "Search for Scarlett" that ended that fiery night on the Warner Brothers backlot with Myron Selznick introducing a backlit Leigh to his brother David and announcing, "Hey, genius, here's your Scarlett O'Hara."
If you do already own the 2009 Blu-ray, well, I don't know that the 75th Anniversary Edition is strictly necessary, but it sure is nice. The two supplemental features on their own are terrific, but only about 40 extra minutes of footage, and again, it looks and sounds identical to the previous version. But the box set is so beautiful, the book so fun, the music box and hankie such lovely touches - if you're a fan, go ahead and splurge (it's only $35 at the below link!), and make everyone who's been mean to you pea-green with envy!
3 BD-50 Dual-Layer Discs; 1 Standard-Def DVD
The memorabilia includes a replica of Rhett Butler’s handkerchief and a music box paperweight playing Tara’s Theme with an image on top of the Rhett-Scarlett kiss. Also included is a 36-page companion booklet featuring a look at the immortal style of Gone with the Wind, written by New York fashion designer and Project Runway finalist Austin Scarlett, whose signature look reflects the romantic elegance of the Gone With the Wind era.
Ultraviolet Digital Copy
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
German Dolby Digital 5.1
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital Mono
Portuguese Dolby Digital Mono
English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German SDH, Italian, Italian SDH, Dutch, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish
Audio Commentary by historian Rudy Behlmer
The Making of a Legend: Gone With the Wind
1939: Hollywood's Greatest Year
Gone With the Wind: The Legend Lives On
Gable: The King Remembered
Vivien Leigh: Scarlett and Beyond
Melanie Remembers: Reflections by Olivia de Havilland
Made-for-Television Movie - Moviola: The Scarlett O'Hara War
The Supporting Players
Restoring a Legend
Vintage Newsreel Footage
Vintage Short Subject: The Old South
Atlanta Civil War Centennial
Additional Footage - International Prologue and Foreign Language Excerpts
6-Hour Documentary - MGM: When the Lion Roars
Exclusive HD Content
NEW - Old South/New South documentary
NEW - Gone With the Wind: Hollywood Comes to Atlanta - Premiere and Tour of Atlanta Footage